On the next Philosophy in Action Radio, I'll answer questions on egoism and altruism, changing jobs quickly, taxpayer-funded abortions, and more. The live broadcast begins at 8 am PT / 9 MT / 10 CT / 11 ET on Sunday, 8 February 2015. If you can't attend live, be sure to listen to the podcast later.


Expertise

  • Q&A: The Importance of Credibility: 11 Jan 2015, Question 1
  • Question: Should a person's credibility matter in judging his empirical claims? Is it rational to use a person's track record – meaning the frequency or consistency of truth in his past statements – in judging the likely truth of his current statements? In Ayn Rand's Normative Ethics, Tara Smith explains that to believe something just because someone said it is a violation of the virtue of independence. Also, to judge an argument based on the speaker is known as the fallacy of "ad hominem." However, doesn't the character of the speaker matter when considering whether to believe his claims? For example, when Thomas Sowell makes an empirical claim, my knowledge that he vigorously tests his hypotheses against the facts makes me more likely to judge his claim as true, even before I've confirmed his statement. Likewise, if a person is frequently wrong in his factual claims, I'd be sure to require lots of evidence before believing him. Is that rational? Or should all factual claims be treated equally regardless of who makes them?

    Tags: Credibility, Epistemology, Ethics, Expertise, Fallacies, Honesty, Independence, Logic, Philosophy, Rationality

  • Q&A: Proper Reliance on Experts: 12 Jun 2011, Question 1
  • Question: What role should experts play in our decision-making? Specifically, should a person defer to experts in fields where he's not well-informed? What if he's only partially knowledgeable? Should experts expect such deference? Does it matter whether the field is philosophy, plumbing, diet, or something else?

    Tags: Epistemology, Expertise, Independence

  • Q&A: Developing Expertise in the Objectivist Ethics: 22 May 2011, Question 4
  • Question: How do I become an expert on the Objectivist ethics? I want a complete understanding. I want to be able to prove it to myself and others. How do I get there most effectively? Can you recommend any material other than the most popular books out there?

    Tags: Ethics, Expertise, Objectivism

  • Q&A: Moral Advice: 13 Feb 2011, Question 6
  • Question: Why do so many Objectivists persist in asking for concrete moral advice? I'm not knocking anybody for asking questions about moral choices, but after listening to Peikoff's and Diana's podcast, and browsing the questions on this forum, I'm struck by how often people ask "is it moral [insert action or life choice]?" I might be wrong, but it seems that the frequency these questions arise, and the eagerness to answer them feeds into the "cultish" accusers source of ammunition since, it smacks of someone seeking a religious authority's proscriptions, instead of using an individual's reason and principles applied in context?

    Tags: Ethics, Expertise, Independence, Life


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